The main environmental issue involved with coffee processing plants is the amount of water needed for the process and the fact that the process changes the chemistry of the water. However, studies have also investigate the affects of coffee waste on rivers and this has turned out to be an environmental problem as well.
One study set up in Ethiopia found that during the wet season the farther downstream from a coffee plant, the worse the quality of the water. Also, at this time of year the amount of oxygen in the water was very low due to an increase in organic loads, nutrients and solids in the water. This in turn affected the number of macroinvertebrates and caused a decrease.
However, by the dry season these problems had solved themselves for the most part and the water and animals in the water had gone back to their normal levels, for the most part. Yet, there was enough of a change from one dry season to the next that suggests that there will be a problem in the long term with the affects of waste from the coffee plant entering the water.
Thankfully, there are green solutions that coffee plants can take to reduce the amount of water they consume and also how they deal with their waste, so not all hope is lost.
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